Dr. A. Keith Crandell, East Valley Institute of Technology’s first superintendent and a visionary in Arizona career and technical education, passed away on Jan. 1.
EVIT Superintendent Dr. Sally Downey said Crandell’s passing is a huge loss for those who knew him and for those who may not have known him but were touched by his work.
Crandell played a key role in the creation of EVIT, Arizona’s first Joint Technological Education District, and the formation of several other JTEDs across the state.
“Dr. Crandell was the person you would want in the fox hole with you,” Downey said. “He would sink his teeth into an idea and never let go.”
Crandell taught business skills for 11 years and then served as Mesa Public Schools’ vocational director before making it his life’s mission to centralize vocational education to best use resources and improve the quality of career training.
He was instrumental in creating Mesa Central High School and Mesa VoTech, the precursors to EVIT. He served as EVIT’s first superintendent until his retirement in 1992, and then sat on the EVIT Governing Board until 2012. He also served as the first superintendent of the Northern Arizona Vocational Institute of Technology (NAVIT).
Crandell served three years of active duty in the Army in the 1950s and then 29 years in the Arizona National Guard.
He was also a lifelong member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, serving in many capacities, including missions to Ohio and Tonga.
He is survived by his wife of 60 years, Carolyn, who currently serves on the EVIT Governing Board. He is also survived by six children, 27 grandchildren and 17 great-grandchildren. Two daughters and one grandson preceded him in death.
A viewing will be 5 to 7:30 p.m., Friday, Jan. 8 at Meldrum Mortuary, 52 N. Macdonald, Mesa. Funeral services will be 10 a.m., Saturday, Jan. 9 at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, 613 N. Stewart, Mesa, with a viewing one hour prior.
Downey will offer a tribute from EVIT at the funeral.
“Keith’s legacy will live on in the hands of the builder, the courage of the firefighter, the creativity of the cosmetologist, and in the work ethic of so many who discovered their career passion through EVIT,” she said. “We are so thankful for his commitment to ensuring that we all have the opportunity to be the best that we can be.”